Dear Diary…friends at the library

Been on the road for several months now.

Nori sleeps on the roof when we find an inn, or outside the walls when we come to a town. People seem to be nervous of her…which is understandable, given her appearance.

Raven does push-ups every chance he has. Ezekiel has been scribbling notes on his manuscript again – his magnum opus about the God of Gods.

Ran into a party of nine goblins. I was very excited to try out the tricks my Ranger Master taught me (about goblins’ weak points, of course) but I guess I was a little too eager because it was hard to land a hit on them.

Back in the day, a party like that would have wiped us out. Now, we triumphed with just a few scratches.

Being older and wiser and stronger sure pays off.

****

The tiny village today offered the blacksmith’s stable as an inn/tavern, so we hung out in the straw with the locals and listened to their stories.

An old man started playing a tune, and we slowly recognized it as that song the gypsy sang. Raven whistled along, while Mikael and I tried to remember the words…y’know, the song the gypsy made about our adventure in Orlane.

So glad to have that behind us. The mud-pit and Explictika, I mean. The people in Orlane were kinda nice (when they weren’t mind-controlled).

A little boy said his favorite part was when the lightening bolt killed the snake. He said he wished he could have seen that. Ezekiel said he wished so, too.

It was indeed something to see, though I was a little distracted. Always treat your magic users well…

****

Funny thing happened in the inn tonight.

As we entered the common room, a Ranger was telling a story about how he “told that evil snake that he was not impressed by her, and he was going to end her reign then and there” – and then he took his great big sword and chopped her head off.

(The barmaid tried to look impressed, but I think she’d heard this story before.)

I turned to Ezekiel to say what a coincidence that this guy had fought an evil snake lady, too!

Raven walked up to the Ranger and asked him about his story. The Ranger (I heard his name was Avalon) said that, yes, he was a mighty Ranger to have defeated such an Evil snake lady, and that we had probably heard of him.

Raven asked to arm-wrestle with him, and Avalon said it would be an honor for Raven to arm-wrestle with such a mighty hero as himself.

The crowd cleared a table for them, and Raven and Avalon squared up across from each other.

(Ezekiel sat at a table off to the side and ordered dinner.)

Raven measured his forearm against Avalon’s, adjusted his grip on Avalon’s palm, and then slammed Avalon’s hand down against the table.

(I did warn him Raven had been doing push-ups.)

The barmaid seemed very impressed, and after Avalon went home she went to talk to Raven. Apparently they’ve all heard the gypsy song, and Avalon says he’s the one in the song.

I asked Ezekiel what the odds were that there were two evil snake ladies around (in between making snide remarks about Raven’s new girlfriend).

Ezekiel didn’t seem worried about it, and we didn’t really talk about it the rest of the night.

As we were bedding down, someone pointed out that it would be too bad if these people think they have a legendary warrior in Avalon, and then something actually dangerous shows up. Ezekiel didn’t seem to think it was worth throwing a fuss over (he’s hunched over with a candle, working on his theological treatise), so we’ll probably just move on in the morning.

Avalon reminds me of a brother of mine. Personally, fame is too much trouble for me to want to steal it…and maybe getting owned by Raven will make Avalon reconsider his life choices.

****

25th of Harvester, arrived at Veluna City.

Found very cheap quarters at the Scholar’s Rest – which is right across from the big library, conveniently enough.

We engaged rooms (be careful that you get ones with beds, since not all of them have them) and stashed our stuff before heading for the library.

I’m hanging on to my magic sword, though…I’m paranoid.

**

Ezekiel asked the attendant about the Book of All Gods, while the rest of us stood there not really knowing what to do.

Tomlin would’ve loved to look around this place. Come to think of it, maybe he’s gone on for advanced studies by now. Alpheus and Mother, of course, used to go to the great library back home.

The attendant brought back the book, but neither of them could read it – apparently it was in “Illusionist,” so they’d need the help of “Prettypebbles.”

(Sounds like a gnome name if ever I heard one…)

He found him illusioned to look like a tall man (at least that’s what Mikael told me was going on), talking to a…young lady who might have made Nori look cuddly. I’ll say no more.

When Prettypebbles was in his gnome appearance, I thought I recognized his clothes as being the Starkmounds fashion – and sure enough, he introduced himself as “Neeblebluer Prettypebbles.”

So there’s another mystery solved! (He said Orlane was boring. Maybe that’s why he left. At least he wasn’t eaten by Explictika.)

Ezekiel asked about any references to the “god of gods,” and Prettypebbles flipped through until he found the page he wanted (see, when he recites/casts the words on the page, little images appear above the pages. It’s super cool).

He had trouble with that page, though, because of some “interference” from the “former rector.” They explained that the rector had spent a little too much time with the scrying orb in the basement, and now he was…troublesome.

Prettypebbles mentioned off-hand going down to “turn” him, and Ezekiel perked up at once. With his usual effervescence, he offered to go “deal” with the rector so they could continue.

Well, when they let us into the basement, we discovered a large black sphere on a black iron stand…surrounded by six figures I could only assume were ghouls.

Little hope of examining them to be sure, of course, because Ezekiel promptly dusted them with his sheep toy magic symbol. The orb seemed to brighten up after that – not enough to illuminate the space, but at least it looked happier.

After poking our noses behind a few more doors to make sure there were no surprises hiding, we returned upstairs.

Then Mr. Prettypebbles was able to read the page properly, and an image appeared of all the gods (every single one, so there were quite a lot) kneeling on a plain, and in the middle was a bright spot – so shiny we couldn’t see anything in it.

“Well, that was worth waking up for,” said Prettypebbles.

While we had his attention, we asked him about the attack our own village…about Ertuli, which seems so far away and so long ago, now.

Well, Prettypebbles got an atlas and started waving his hands and chanting his words, and a figure started to appear over the map – but then a voice said, “No!” and the image vanished.

He said we had to try with the scrying orb (so it’s just as well we cleared out the ghouls earlier) – and this time, when he tried his spell, he seemed to see much more.

It still didn’t make sense to me, but he tells us the “Black One” – the “Mage of the Valley” – was putting pressure on the bugbears (we saw this big bugbear chief in the orb) and that this chief made the goblins do what they wouldn’t normally do (attack a village during the day).

That at least gives us some answers, although it doesn’t help us much. I guess defeating the bugbear chief would relieve the pressure on the goblins…and as hard as that sounds, it sounds more doable than dealing with this Black Mage or whatever he is. Prettypebbles says he’s protected himself from scrying, and anyone who goes into his valley doesn’t come out.

We thanked Mr. Prettypebbles, and he said he would let us know if he thought of a quest for us to thank him with.

He did ask “Beanpole” to reach a book for “Lydia” – the girl we’d seen earlier. Mikael got it down for her – Basic Thaumaturgy.

Ezekiel said that was a very interesting book to be reading, and somehow or other she realized who we were and suddenly asked, “You’re not them, are you? From the song?”

She knew all our names, and what we had done in the lair of Explictika, and was very impressed.

“I’ve only been in two dungeons,” she said. “And they were really more like cellars.”

I guess you could call the cellars of the Temple and the Golden Grain “dungeons,” but they were nothing compared to the Mud Pit of Instant Death (which we barely survived and one of us not even that).

Ezekiel explained that we’d been engaged to investigate possible disturbances in the town of Homlett (everyone around here knows that’s where the Cult of Elemental Evil showed up however-long ago), and Lydia jumped on it and asked to come.

She said learning through application is so much more effective than just theory (she’s sure right there) and said she wanted to adventure alongside seasoned heroes like us.

Well…with an offer like that, how could we turn her down? Especially when she mentioned she can “only” cast up to level 2 spells (as good as Mikael is, it would be nice to have more than one spell-caster).

We got used to Nori’s looks…we’ll get used to Lydia’s, too.

So we start out the day after tomorrow. The others have some shopping they want to do – Mikael especially wants to get a collar for Nori, so maybe people won’t be so worried about her.

If luck is with us, we should reach Homlett in another month. Just in time for winter to set in. And then, who knows what will be waiting for us…


This is a continuation of the adventure begun in “How Did It All Start?” To get to know the characters better, click here.

To read where we left off last time, click here.

Subscribe to Kimia Wood’s mailing list for book updates!

Dear Diary…nothing is ever simple

Alert: May contain spoilers for the AD&D Module: “Born-Again Ogres of the Blinding Light”

Lunch break.  So far things have gone well. Haraldus is going on about how we must forgive our enemies – because the dwarves really don’t know any better (just like the hobgoblins didn’t use to know any better) and so we should pity them not hate them. Ezekiel is really getting into it.

Impressive that he convinced hobgoblins to change their nature like this. Pity it doesn’t work on everybody…

****

Close to supper-time, someone appeared on the road in front of us, approaching. Imagine our surprise when Durglower Rockvein (fully healed, and with three friends) stepped forward with a big sack.

While I was busy counting them and planning order of attack, Ezekiel greeted them.

“We’re awful sorry about, well, last night,” said the dwarf (in his little dwarvish accent). “So we hoped we could share a meal with ye before you leave our territory tomorro’.”

Well…Ezekiel asked us what we thought. I reminded him that I am always paranoid, but Ezekiel was inclined to give them a chance (and so was Haraldus since, y’know, he was just telling us about forgiving our enemies).

So the dwarves pulled roots and herbs out of their sack, the hobgoblins got a fire and stew going, and dinner was served.

Raven said he wasn’t feeling well, so he didn’t have any stew. Ezekiel, Mikael, Haraldus, and the hobgoblins seemed to enjoy the stew, and the dwarves ate their fill (although they didn’t seem to enjoy it).

I decided some of us needed to be paranoid, so I had bread and cheese leftover from lunch.

After the meal, the dwarves packed up and left. Night was close enough that we settled down to camp.

Haraldus soon rolled into his cloak and fell asleep. So did Ezekiel.

In fact he isn’t moving when I prod him with my foot.

Mikael seems to be fine…so I guess no matter what’s happening, I’ll take my watch and get ready for trouble.

After all, trouble happens to us every week.

****

Sure enough, I hadn’t even roused my replacement for the watch when the dwarves were back.

In fact, Durglower must have found some more somewhere, because he had six friends again – same as last night.

Since Ezekiel was still sacked out (and since Ezie had given me that special-looking short sword) I uncovered my shield with Perpetual Light engaged the dwarf leader and one of his men.

Durglower was a little over-eager, because one of his first thrusts drove his sword right through my shield – where it got stuck.

The dwarves in my peripheral vision lit up with Mikael’s faery fire. I heard the screams and gurgles as Nori bit into her master’s enemies…the high, wailing thing Raven does when he does his monk attacks…the harsh hobgoblin voices singing “O Blinding Light” (not as tunefully as last night)…the clang of dwarves attacking the acolytes…the soft snoring of Ezekiel at our feet.

Durglower made a lunge for his sword, and stomped on Ezekiel’s head. Even Ezie was wakened by that, and he scrambled to his feet.

I’m glad I paid so much attention to my Ranger Master. The two dwarves hammering on me did get in a blow or two, but for the most part they didn’t do much damage.

Ezekiel cried, “Friend Hobgoblins, bandage the monk!”

So apparently Raven’s luck wasn’t so strong.

“Only see spider, not monkey,” the hobgoblins answered, and lost the tune for “O Blinding Light.”

“Help the man on the ground,” yelled Ezekiel — then dashed off muttering to himself. Apparently one of them tried to rouse Haraldus.

Haraldus was really out, to sleep through all the dim we were making.

Nori pounced onto Durglower’s head, trying to get a bite in. He’s quite the tough one, that’s for sure, since I’d been whacking at him the entire time, and he still wasn’t down.

Durglower finally managed to yank his sword out of my shield, but just then Mikael ran up, and shot some kind of flame from his hand (it’s so fun watching him do new things) – and knocked D backward a pace.

As I finished off the dwarf chief, I realized a hobgoblin was beating on Nori. They weren’t singing anymore…they were shouting, “Blood and bludgeon, brothers!”

Mikael (still swinging around that hand-held flame of his) ran toward the couple remaining dwarves, who were still single-mindedly attacking the hobgoblins.

Raven did some kind of flippy kick (but missed) and as I was coming forward, too, (slowed down because a hobgoblin hit me) Mikael took down one of the dwarves.

There was still one up and kicking, though – and he stabbed the last hobgoblin before we could get to him (the hobgoblin that was trying to attack me for some reason).

Then he turned and ran. Ezekiel yelled to us to kill the dwarf, and bent over a fallen hobgoblin acolyte.

I dropped my weapons and whipped out my bow. My first arrow winged him so badly that he fell to the ground.

Well, I must have gotten over-excited, because my next shot totally fumbled – but it let Raven catch up with the dwarf, and then he delayed him enough for me to get the final shot off.

When we turned back to the camp, Haraldus was awake and sitting up, and cradling an acolyte in his arms. He was mumbling something that sounded like a Cure Light Wounds spell, but his voice kept breaking.

“They couldn’t let us stay in the light,” grunted the hobgoblin. “Kill or be killed. They wouldn’t let us stay in the light…”

Ezekiel went around closing their eyes, imploring Ao for mercy on their souls.

Nori was also in a bad way, quietly twitching a couple of her legs as Mikael stroked her.

When Ezekiel knew all the hobgoblins were dead, he pulled out a scroll and began to read over Nori. In a few minutes, she twitched again, rolled her feet underneath her, and climbed a nearby tree.

Thank goodness. Say what you will about her looks, she has the highest kill count of our entire party. We would’ve been dead without her.

Haraldus sat by the fire, mourning his acolytes. Ezekiel asked him how far this Chapel of Hope was…but it was at least eight days away, and we’d never get their bodies there in time for a resurrection.

So the best we can do is bury them here, and trust the Good gods to be gracious on some poor, lost hobgoblins.

I wonder how that even works…

****

I searched the dwarves before we buried them.

  • 60 gold pieces (in the bag of holding to be shared)
  • fine leather boots (Mikael determined they’re magical, so we let Raven try them out; even though they came off a dwarf, they seem to fit whoever wears them)
  • blood ruby broach
  • chainmail (also magical, but still dwarf-sized)
  • silver-buckled belt
  • platinum necklace with rose crystal setting in a horn shape (not magical)
  • potion (Ezekiel thinks it might be for animal control? He’s carrying it – after all, he spent his Potion of Heal on Raven during the fight, so he has a slot available on his belt)

On top of all that, Haraldus still paid us the fifty gold apiece that he promised – even though we kind of failed to get his charges safely to their destination.

Ezekiel didn’t want to accept it, since he said we had the chance to kill Durglower Rockvein on that first night, but we didn’t…and left him able to cause more trouble.

Haraldus said that he supported Ezekiel’s decision at the time, so it wasn’t really his/our fault…and after all, he promised us the money, so wouldn’t feel right not paying us.

We offered to escort him back home (rather ironic request, given the turn of events) but he said he didn’t think he’d be molested from now on…

I think I saw Ezekiel with tears in his eyes as he said good-bye to Haraldus. Regrets about his chosen deity? Heh…the way they were talking, sounds like Ao and Pholtus of the Blinding Light might be friends.

Well. We continue on richer, but are we wiser?

I wonder if a hobgoblin will ever learn to serve a Good deity.

Note to self: never trust anyone. Especially anyone offering food. Ever.


This is a continuation of the adventure begun in “How Did It All Start?” To get to know the characters better, click here.

To read where we left off last time, click here.

Subscribe to Kimia Wood’s mailing list for book updates!

Dear Diary…a reversal of stereotypes

Been a month since anything really interesting happened. It’s now the 7th of Goodmonth, and we arrived not long ago in the village of Harrington (which, to call it a village is kinda stretching the term. There’s an inn and a big manor house, plus a few scattered cottages).

We approached the inn first, but it’s been a rough month. I think we had maybe three copper pieces between us. If only we hadn’t bought the –

Well, anyway, Ezekiel chatted up the proprietor, but the proprietor couldn’t help us (too pricy and not interested in a labor exchange) and suggested we try up at the manor house. Apparently there’s a cleric of Pholtus the Blinding Light up there.

Ezekiel (naturally) was very excited, and we trotted on up there. The place had definitely seen better days, but didn’t have “that look” if you know what I mean…the look that I should be watching my back for undead.

Mikael told Nori to hang out on the roof so as not to disturb the residents.

The man of the house is named Haraldus, and once Ezekiel explained our situation he was more than happy to exchange some supplies and lodging for some service.

As he explained, he had five acolytes he wanted to take to a chapel of Pholtus the Blinding Light (the “Chapel of Light”), so they could further study the “true faith,” and he wanted some mercenary protection for them on the road. In fact, he offered us fifty gold apiece if we helped him out!

Well, we figured we could handle that, so we agreed, and Haraldus sat us down to enjoy stew with his five acolytes (wearing grey/white cloaks with hoods that hid their faces).

Haraldus gave a long prayer over the food – even longer than Ezekiel might give. When he was finally done, the acolytes threw back their hoods and started eating.

……They were hobgoblins.

Not the stew, I mean. The acolytes.

The four of us kinda looked at each other, then Ezekiel slapped on an exaggerated smile and started eating stew.

Gotta say. It was excellent stew.

At our questions, Haraldus explained that some time ago, he had been captured by the hobgoblins of these acolytes’ tribe – with the whole rest of his party being slaughtered.

(Sounds familiar.)

However, Haraldus insisted on preaching the One True Path to the hobgoblins, and these five were persuaded to leave their barbaric ways and follow the pure Pholtus (of the Blinding Light). The hobgoblins confirmed his story eagerly in between guzzling stew.

My brother Tomlin always said, “If you don’t ask, you won’t know.” (Tomlin was a hopeless nerd, by the way.)

So we asked: “Why would a group of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears attack a small village for no reason?”

The acolytes said, “Oh, hobgoblins very mean, very violent. Us hates that way now.”

So…Sorry, Ertulli – goblins are just mean and violent.

Well, the dishes are cleared, and we leave early in the morning (so as not to disturb the villagers). Ezekiel is currently talking to Haraldus about Nori, explaining that she’s really quite nice, actually, just kinda scary when people first see her (especially unexpectedly).

****

Mikael cast Predict Weather this morning (eager to try out his new spells), and said the weather would be “good.”

We introduced the hobgoblins to Nori, and they took her in stride. Duh, they’re hobgoblins. They probably have pet spiders and snakes all the time or something (I have not asked about that yet).

Which is good, because she took down a deer and came trotting into our camp at lunchtime, dragging the partially-munched carcass. Good thing we don’t have a floor for her to mess up.

Made good time, and set up camp in a little wood.

I get to sleep a little before my watch.

****

Nothing is ever simple, is it.

I was on watch when I noticed footsteps surrounding us. While I roused Raven, I realized it sounded like dwarvish feet (they’re small but heavy, and they usually go rattle-clack somehow).

I got Ezekiel and Haraldus up, and while Mikael was calling Nori to stand by, a dwarf came close enough that we could see him and hailed us.

“Who comes?” asked Ezekiel.

“Durglower,” answered the dwarf, which I thought was the name of his tribe – or maybe swearing – but is actually just his name.

Then he (the dwarf) demanded that we hand over the hobgoblins to be executed because their tribe had killed some dwarves.

Haraldus refused, explaining that these hobgoblins were good, now, and had reformed.

Ezekiel also pontificated about how the acolytes were under our protection, and we couldn’t just look the other way on them getting killed.

Well, obviously this made the Dwarf mad.

Ezekiel tore the cover off his shield of Perpetual Light, and the woods lit up with harsh white light and extreme shadows. Then he went for Durglower, and battle was joined.

Haraldus led the hobgoblins in singing “O Blinding Light,” which might have been just as effective a weapon as anything.

The dwarves focused their attacks on the acolytes for the most part, which I think was good for us.

I spotted a dwarf through the trees and started filling him with arrows…but dwarves are unexpectedly tough. I got in four hits, and only then did he start trying to run away.

Meanwhile, Mikael and Nori were somewhere in the dark, trying to bash dwarves. Mikael finally cast Faery Fire, and Nori, of course, knows her business well.

Suddenly, the chief dwarf was yelling, “Fall back!” and the dwarves scattered into the woods.

All except the chief, because Raven charged him, and Ezekiel forced him to surrender.

Haraldus and Mikael went around casting Cure Light Wounds on the acolytes (Haraldus asked “Brother Ezekiel” if he had any healing spells prepared? Yeah, that’ll have to be explained one day…).

One of the acolytes was down, but the others were still singing “O Blinding Light” through their wounds.

Now that’s what I call a radical conversion.

Ezekiel did his pomp-talk to the dwarven chief (Durglower Rockvein), all about how they attacked us in the dead of night without warning, but he didn’t hold ill will against them, and would let them bury their own dead if they wanted.

I counted up three dead dwarves (two of them covered in Nori’s teeth marks, one of them full of stab wounds from Raven), while we’d also lost an acolyte. We dragged the dead out of the woods and lined them up on the edge of the campsite, then Ezekiel and Raven decided to dig a grave then and there (I guess because they were all wound up. I convinced Ezie to leave the rest of the discussion until morning, and the acolytes, Mikael, and I curled up to sleep the rest of the night as much as possible).

****

Morning. Ezekiel announced that he wanted to let Durglower go, but that he was keeping his sword (which incidentally had been glowing last night) as “discouragement” from any further banditry.

Raven and I weren’t sure that was such a good idea, since – as Raven pointed out – it was likely a family heirloom (the kind of thing people are very attached to) and – as I tried to point out – the kind of thing people might commit murder to try to recover (and would bear a grudge for having stolen).

But then I had a flashback to my Ranger Master, talking about the law of the woods. It’s different out here than it might be in a town, and the victorious combatant deserves the spoils.

We were already being pretty generous in not looting the dead dwarves.

And…it was a very impressive looking short sword.

So that’s that. We buried Mook the hobgoblin, Haraldus gave a long and passionate burial service (complete with singing), and we prepared to go after breakfast.

Durglower was not excited to share stew with us, and took off as soon as we let him.

Hope we won’t have trouble there later.

Mikael says the weather prediction is “good.”


This is a continuation of the adventure begun in “How Did It All Start?” To get to know the characters better, click here.

To read where we left off last time, click here.

Subscribe to Kimia Wood’s mailing list for book updates!

Dear Diary…strangers on the road

Two and a half weeks never went by so quickly. My head feels crammed with new ways to track things in woods, new ways to kill goblins, new ways to move quietly over leaves…

The others have been busy, too, of course. Raven has been at one of the temples in Hochoch, while Mikael disappeared to some secret Druid place in the forest.

Ezekiel is babbling on about some parchment he found in an obscure library that mentioned the “God of gods.” He wants to find out more as soon as he can.

The Richfest in Hochoch was exciting; big towns do it differently than we did in Ertuli. Of course no celebration will be like your memories of how they did it in your childhood…

Tomorrow we start for Homlet. It’s quite a hike, but hopefully the journey will go smoothly.

****

5th day of Reaping, Waterday

When we stopped for lunch, I noticed some strange tracks on the ground by the road – unlike any creature I’d ever heard about. Not comforting.

Not long afterward, we spotted a boy in a bright red shirt making his way toward us. He seemed to be trying to hide from something, but Mikael hailed him, and then he came up to us.

We exchanged the usual about where we were heading, and Mikael asked if the strange tracks were “his people.”

The boy said yes, and laughed. (He did a lot of laughing.)

Mikael smiled, too, and said they were the Wandering Folk, the Tzigane – and that all Druids have at least heard about them.

The boy wandered over to Raven and tried to swipe one of his daggers…but Raven caught his hand.

That made the boy laugh. (I’m not keen on all this laughing.)

Raven smiled and held one of the daggers out to the boy.

The boy laughed again and took it. “You’re strange Gorgio,” he said.

“Aren’t all Gorgio strange?” I asked.

He laughed (again) and said yes, and then he said that he liked Raven.

Reminds me of a brother of mine…

About that time, a little girl appeared, calling for “Nicolai.” She came up and asked the boy what he was doing.

“I’ve been working, Marta,” he said, tossing the dagger casually.

“If you were working, you wouldn’t be showing me,” she said. And she told him to come along.

He invited us to come with, so we headed off along the road. Mikael (and I) realized Nicolai probably hadn’t seen Nori, so he told her to stay in the trees out of sight. A giant, hairy spider can be a little off-putting at first.

After a ways, we split off from the road – but were still going with the trail of strange markings. (Whatever animal that is, I’m not sure I want to meet it.)

Finally, we reached a clearing with several bright-colored carriages or wagons, several horses, and men and women in clothes of all kinds of colors. (Those tracks aren’t anything like horse-hooves or wagon wheels…)

The boy introduced us as his friends, and introduced us to his uncle (also Nicolai). (The leader is a dark-haired man…doesn’t seem to like us. Not like I blame him, but keep your wits on…)

Uncle Nicolai seems like a decent fellow. He casually told us that the horses would be less nervous if our spider kept her distance…which is much calmer than that inn in Hochoch who told Mikael “no pets.”

The uncle is also a musician, and an impressive one. He asked for our story, so Ezekiel unloaded the whole saga of him (Ezie) getting killed.

As he listened, the minstrel kept thrumming his instrument (a lyre or mandolin, I think) and when it was done he sang the story back to us. So, setting poetry on the fly – that’s pretty impressive!

When he was done, he said he usually got paid for his songs…but it was our story he was singing, so how could we be expected to pay for that?

(Glad he saw it that way, since it’s a long way to Homlet, and we might need what little cash we have.)

Raven went off to talk to one of the horses (yeah, apparently Monks can do that, now. He’s really excited about it) until the ladies called us all to the campfire for dinner.

These Tzigane people are very friendly. One blond-haired girl even tried to sit up against Ezekiel, but he smiled at her and scooted closer to Raven, so she stayed next to her brother or cousin or something.

A dog came through, and seemed to be having a deep conversation with Raven. Beside me, Mikael was watching them closely. I can see it doesn’t seem fair that a Monk can do something that a Druid can’t.

As we ate our stew, one of the women offered to read Ezekiel’s fortune if he “crossed her palm with silver” – so he gave her a gold piece (which is not silver) and she looked at his palm.

(I would make a lousy salesman. “Can I interest you in this fine leather jacket?” “Sure. Oh, you want me to pay for it? But you’re the one who brought it up!” Better stick with Rangering.)

She told him many things—

  • remember the God of Gods’ rules
  • he’ll go on a long journey, and face a demon (oik!)
  • he’ll face ill health before reaching town (what a surprise!)
  • a rich merchant at the full moon will help him

We sat around the fire all evening, until one by one we dropped off to sleep. I told Mikael I’d take first watch (setting a watch? OF COURSE. Who am I again?). Feels a lot like a party, what with sleeping in the open air and being guests “of honor,” but…well…you never know.

The firelight and the starlight are beautiful, though.

****

I must have dozed off because suddenly the dog was licking my face, and the fire had died down.

I sat up and thanked the dog, who went over to lay down by Raven (I’ll say this for Raven, he makes a splash with whoever he talks to).

About midnight, I woke Mikael up and lay down – and in the morning we were all alive and had all our belongings as far as I know.

The Tzigane started packing up, and Mikael hurried over to talk to the horse (apparently he prayed for Speak to Animals this morning, to show he wasn’t outclassed by the Monk). Raven also went over to the horses and helped with their care – maybe being able to talk to the horses helps you take care of them.

Ezekiel gave a string of pompous, flowery speeches about unexpected friendship and what-not. (Why don’t you just say “we think you’re all crooks, and are unexpectedly pleased to still have the clothes on our backs”? If that’s what you’re really thinking? Ezekiel…)

Little Nicolai gave Raven a hug good-bye, immediately after which Raven told me he’s missing another dagger.

Reminds me of a brother of mine…

Ezekiel gave the chief a gold piece…and after the chief decided to not be offended (I thought it was a toss-up for a moment there) he called for Little Nicolai. The boy appeared, steered by his mother, and they made him give Raven his dagger back.

Well, whatever else, it seems we’ve made a splash. I hope they enjoy talking about these “weird Gorgio” for a while.

(Oh, one of them told me about the tracks. Apparently it’s something they do to the ground so they can find each other in the woods, and recognize their own trails. Clever. I’ll have to remember that trick.)

We were just about to leave when one of the ladies put a “blessing” on us. Ezekiel thanked her (at length – makes me think of a brother of mine) and we parted, finding our way back to the main road.

Looks like a fine day for marching.

****

Not too far down the road, I smelled something familiar. Oh, I’m getting really accustomed (and tired) of that particular scent!

Goblins. Five goblins.

Ezekiel took one down with his mace. Nori sprang into action and bit the neck of another one.

I was excited to try out what Master was just teaching me about Giant-Class Humanoids…and sure enough, my arrows flew true and hit my targets in the vulnerable places, killing them!

It sure feels good to be effective at something for once.

Mikael helped me search their pockets, where we found a decent amount of silver – and a parchment with weird writing on it. The letters seem to swirl and pulse in a way that gives me a headache.

Ezekiel is carrying it for now, since he’s the closest thing to a scholar we have right now.

(I asked Mikael what happened to his Magic Horn of Bubbles. He said, well, there was this guy bothering his sister, so he left it behind to try to make him leave her alone.)

If the rest of the journey is as quiet as this, I will be happy. No injuries so far, no “Ezekiel sitting on a snake” incidents, none of that.

We’ll have excitement enough if we really have to fight a demon.


This is a continuation of the adventure begun in “How Did It All Start?” To get to know the characters better, click here.

To read where we left off last time (the conclusion of the last adventure) click here.

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Dear Diary…the journey home

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

First thing after breakfast, I accompanied Mikael back to the lower level. We know the water will start to creep in, now that the zombies aren’t running their pump, but it shouldn’t go fast enough to cause us problems.

And he wanted to try befriending that vicious-looking bipedal lizard thing.

So while the others hauled all the treasure up to our cart in the over-world, we made one last trip to the depths… Continue reading

Dear Diary…foes and fortunes Part 2

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

We arrived at the VIP quarters without incident, and while I mixed up something to eat from the late guards’ supplies, Mikael cast Detect Magic on the jewelry we’d acquired from the harpy.

He pronounced a gold necklace to be magical, so Ezekiel looked over it. He has done a lot of traveling and studying, after all.

As he looked it over, he started cackling and whooping.

“I think,” he said. “I think this is a ‘Necklace of Adaptation’ – meaning it’ll ‘adapt’ your breathing to any environment: vacuum, gas, water, whatever!”

So we gave it to Lancell to wear, at least for as long as we’re in the dungeon, since he’s our front line heavy hitter. Continue reading

Dear Diary…foes and fortunes Part 1

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

Far above where the sun shone, dawn broke. Lancell and Nori the spider were moving again, and seemed none the worse for spending the night paralyzed. Even Ezekiel had color in his face again, so we headed out in our usual battle formation.

Down the hall, about the turn where Ezekiel was attacked before, the lizardmen (trogs) suddenly melted out of the shadows and fell upon us.

We must have startled them as much as they surprised us – that, or they were consumed with hatred to hit us – because two of them cut down their companions in front of them before we could even engage.

Nori pounced and sank her fangs into one of the stinking creatures, while Mikael leaned against the wall of the passage, clearly trying not to hurl.

I launched my arrow while Raven darted forward and did one of his Monk-ish palm-punches, stunning the trog.

The luck didn’t stay on our side, though. Nori was felled to the ground with a stone ax, and I…sort of…grazed Mikael’s arm with an arrow.

Lancell was dropping trogs left and right, while Ezekiel soaked up punishment until he was leveled to the ground.

I tell you it was my bow, but somehow it slipped from my hand and came back to whack me in the eye. My next shot finally flew true, though, and nailed a trog through the throat… The enemy was defeated. Continue reading

Dear Diary…a cakewalk – NOT!

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

We left the chunks of ivory with Kelsier for him to get appraised and sold off. He’ll leave our shares with Olwin at the Slumbering Serpent — we wanted to get an early start in the morning.

We also hired a cart with detachable wheels that should make lugging treasure through the swamp easier.

When we reached the swamp I was happy to see the trail seemed less traveled than before. Apparently we’ve cut down on the traffic! Maybe without E.D. goading them on, the trog population will keep to themselves.

****

The 15th day of Wielsan we returned to the dyke that surrounded the dungeon opening. It seemed less oppressive than when we first encountered it, now that we knew a little more what to expect…and now that the Big Bad was dead. Continue reading

Dear Diary…mopping up

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

We ain’t very sneaky.

After leaving the elves’ house, we sauntered down to the Golden Grain Inn. Ezekiel bought himself some wine and talked to the innkeeper (Bertram) while Raven and I examined the fireplace (strangely fire-less) and the other two spread out through the common room.

The blacksmith’s son had told us about a secret signal the cultists used to identify each other – putting your palm to your forehead – so Ezekiel did that to the innkeeper.

Innkeeper excused himself, conferred with his cook, and went back behind the bar.

Ezekiel and Lancell hired a room for the night and went upstairs with the innkeeper while Raven and I pretended not to know them and tried talking to one of the men drinking at a table. Continue reading

Dear Diary…detective work

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

The Cleric of Velnius took his leave and left to attend to his rainstorm or something, so we all made our own signs of respect and thanked him.

We took the chance to ask Cleric Abramo what had happened to him, and after dismissing the newbie monks, he explained.

Apparently it was Misha, his lovely female cleric assistant, who got him involved (y’know, the one whose chainmail I’m wearing…). She asked him to go talk to some of the people at the Golden Grain, and he went with her, wanting to impress her and be nice. Well, turns out his drink was drugged or something, and the last he remembered was being tied up.

They took him off to the mud pit, and Explictika did her foul magic on him. When he came back, he was forced – compelled by the magic! – to do terrible things that he didn’t want to do.

As he talked, he kept dropping his head, very embarrassed. I whispered to Ezekiel to tell him I’m glad we didn’t kill him, and Abramo returned the sentiment. Continue reading